Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Staples release 9/28

September 28, 2010
With summer officially behind us, the focus of building and facility managers’ work in entryways shifts from cleaning up tracked-in dirt to cleaning up tracked-in snow. Snow and ice is particularly challenging because it can cause damage to buildings, costing thousands in maintenance fees. Winter-weather hazards can result in dangerous slip-and-fall accidents, which have led to states like Massachusetts to enact new laws where property owners are now legally responsible for snow and ice removal. As preparations for the winter season begin, facility managers can make strategic decisions now to prevent hazardous conditions.
To minimize risks to people and property, Staples Facility Solutions, a Staples business and one of the only national cleaning and maintenance programs in the country, has compiled a list of guidelines and product information that facility managers should review before purchasing ice melting products. These include:
• Know What is Under Your Feet: Maintaining a facility’s grounds for pedestrians and vehicles is a building manager’s primary objective. Therefore, the deicer must be designed to remove snow and ice from walkways, parking lots, roadways, and other pedestrian pathways without damaging the surfaces. Remember there is a deicing product to suit every need, but the first priority should always be to prevent slip-and-fall accidents.
• Take Preventative Measures: Facility managers can apply certain ice melt products in anticipation of snow and ice. This can help stop snow from bonding to the surface as it melts when it comes into contact with the brine.
• Recognize All Deicers are Not Created Equal: With seven primary chemicals used in deicing products, more than 95% of the chemical ice melts are made from using at least one of these chemicals. By knowing the properties of each raw material, you can decide more accurately which products will be most effective for your situation. Don’t forget to also look at product availability, lead time necessary for delivery, and container size and type for safe and efficient storage, handling, and disposal.
• Review the Impact: Facility managers must also look at the impact certain deicers have on exterior walkway surfaces, interior surfaces, and vegetation. Prudent use of ice melt products can minimize damage to concrete. And facility managers should also think about installing appropriate entrance matting to reduce the amount of ice melt residue being tracked into the building.
• Understand Total Cost: Sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, and UREA are the primary ice melts facility managers will use – each with different attributes. For instance while sodium chloride (rock salt) is most commonly used and can be relatively slow at deicing, it is the least expensive and can be harmful to vegetation. However, labor is the biggest cost of winter maintenance, so overall effectiveness should always be the guide.